Advantages Compelling analysis of George W. Bush's public life as governor of Texas
Disadvantages Lacks primary-source citations for those who want to check the facts for themselves
It began innocently enough. Given my liberal Democratic views and my instinctive dislike for our incumbent president, a political biography of George W. Bush was literally the last thing on my mind as I arrived at Dulles International for a transatlantic flight. With an unfinished bodice ripper from my last domestic flight held firmly in hand, I thought I was set for reading material. Nonetheless, the book kiosks at Dulles are tempting, and the wait for an international flight is long . . . so, off I went to browse the offerings.I love reading Molly Ivins' work. She's a marvelous writer with a talent for combining the discussion of serious issues with a healthy infusion of humor. I first encountered her sassy, sarcastic political commentary when I was a newlywed living in Dallas, which was many-many years in the past. When I saw Ivins' name above the title Shrub: The Short but Happy Political Life of George W. Bush, I burst into peals of laughter. Here was a political biography of Dubya I could actually bear to read, all the while recognizing that what I would take as bitter truths regarding Bush the Younger would be delivered with the proverbial grain of salt. Ivins' irreverent humor would see me through. All this was before 9-11 and Iraq, when laughter and George Dubya were still not only possible, but often appropriate.
My encounter with Shrub would not disappoint me--at least not as far as Ivins and her co-author, Lou Dubose, were concerned. Declaring both their credentials and their biases, Ivins and Dubose delved relentlessly into the public life of George W. Bush. This book stands as a key work for both those who admire George W. and for those who don't.In prose that is often scathing, sometimes sympathetic, and always couched in a down-home Texas flavor, Ivins and Dubose deliver a thought-provoking portrait of the man who has become our 43rd president. They also depict a man who, if measured by a standard proclaiming that even the appearance of impropriety cannot be tolerated, will be scampering about in what his father once described as "deep doo-doo."
Before the tragic events of 9-11 put criticism of Dubya on the back burner, the themes raised in Shrub were beginning to be heard more frequently as the honeymoon period for the new president rushed to a screeching halt. Now that the whys and wherefores that led to Iraq are so much on the public mind, these themes are again being aired as the nation and the world struggles to understand where we are and how we got here.~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Dubya's tenure in the Texas Air National Guard has been examined both by the Texas media and by the courts in a tangentially related civil suit. What is patently clear is that George the Younger got a bye on Vietnam precisely because his standing as the son of an influential family bought him a safe posting that was unlikely to see combat. In fairness, many other sons of powerful families took the same path.
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